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The Ultimate Rolex Reference Numbers Guide

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What Is A Rolex Reference Number?

Among all the numbers and codes that come with Rolex watches, its reference number is one of the most important ones to know. A Rolex reference number can reveal plenty of information about the watch including model type, material, production period, and more. The primary purpose of a Rolex reference number is to indicate the model of the watch. In fact, the reference number is also known as the model number or style number. Therefore, the reference number will tell you if the watch is a Submariner, Datejust, Day-Date, Yacht-Master, and so on. Below is a Rolex reference numbers chart outlining the starting digits of the reference number according to model type.

Rolex Reference Number Model Chart

ModelReference Number Starting DigitsExamples
Air-King55-, 140-, 114-, 116-Air-King ref. 114200

Air-King ref. 116900

Date15-, 150-, 115-Date ref. 1500

Date ref. 115200

Datejust 3168-, 782-, 1782-, 2782-Datejust ref. 17827

Datejust ref. 178240

Datejust 3666-, 16-, 162-, 1162-, 1262-Datejust ref. 116233

Datejust ref. 126234

Datejust II1163-Datejust ref. 116334
Datejust 411263-Datejust ref. 126301
Day-Date 3665-, 18-, 180-, 182-, 183-, 1182-, 1282-Day-Date ref. 128238

Day-Date ref. 118239

Day-Date II2182-Day-Date ref. 218235
Day-Date 402282-Day-Date ref. 228239

Day-Date ref. 228206

Daytona62-, 165-, 1165-Daytona ref. 16528

Daytona ref. 116500

Explorer61-, 63-, 66-, 10-, 142-, 1142-, 2142-Explorer ref. 14270

Explorer ref. 214270

Explorer II165-, 2165-Explorer II ref. 16570

Explorer II ref. 216570

Lady-Datejust679-, 791-, 1791-, 2791-Lady-Datejust ref. 179171

Lady-Datejust ref. 279163

Milgauss65-, 10-, 1164-Milgauss ref. 1019

Milgauss ref. 116400

Oyster Perpetual176-, 177-, 116-, 114-Oyster Perpetual ref. 114300

Oyster Perpetual ref. 116000

Sea-Dweller16-, 166-, 1166-, 1266-Sea-Dweller ref. 116600

Sea-Dweller ref. 126603

Submariner55-, 140-, 1140-Submariner ref. 14060

Submariner ref. 114060

Submariner Date16-, 166-, 168-, 1166-Submariner ref. 16610

Submariner ref. 116618

GMT-Master65-, 167-GMT-Master ref. 1675

GMT-Master ref. 16700

GMT-Master II167-, 1167-, 1267-GMT-Master II ref. 116718

GMT-Master II ref. 126710

Oysterquartz170-, 190-Oysterquartz ref. 17014

Oysterquartz ref. 19018

Yacht-Master 29696-, 1696-Yacht-Master ref. 69622

Yacht-Master ref. 169623

Yacht-Master 31686-, 1686-Yacht-Master ref. 68628

Yacht-Master ref. 168622

Yacht-Master 37268-Yacht-Master ref. 268621
Yacht-Master 40166-, 1166-, 1266-Yacht-Master ref. 126655

Yacht-Master ref. 116622

Yacht-Master 422266-Yacht-Master ref. 226659
Yacht-Master II1166-Yacht-Master II ref. 116680
Sky-Dweller326-Sky-Dweller ref. 326934

Depending on the era, Rolex reference numbers can be four to six digits long. Early in Rolex’s history, reference numbers were four digits long. In the late-1970s, Rolex began switching to five-digit reference numbers and by the end of the 1980s, all reference numbers were that long. Around the 2000s, Rolex transitioned to six-digit reference numbers, often just adding a “1” to the beginning of the five-digit reference numbers. Therefore, a Rolex reference number can also tell you the approximate era a watch was made in.

Generally speaking, although there are some exceptions, the length of the Rolex reference number indicates the following:

  • Four-Digit Reference numbers: Vintage Rolex watch produced prior to the late-1970s
  • Five-Digit Reference numbers: Discontinued Rolex watch produced anywhere from the late-1970s until 1999
  • Six-Digit Reference: Modern Rolex watch produced anywhere from 2000 to present

Rolex Reference Number engraved between the lugs right above the 12 o'clock location on the side of the case. A Rolex reference number engraved between the lugs right above the 12 o’clock location on the side of the case.

Rolex Reference Numbers Indicate Case Materials and Bezel Style

While the first few digits denote the model type, the last digit in five and six-digit Rolex reference numbers (not four-digit ones) indicates the material of the watch.

Rolex Material Codes

Material CodeMaterialExample

0

Stainless Steel

(Also known as Oystersteel)

GMT-Master II ref. 116710

1

Two-Tone Steel & Everose Gold

(Also known as Everose Rolesor)

Datejust II ref. 126331

2

Stainless Steel & Platinum

(Also known as Rolesium)

Yacht-Master ref. 126622

3

Two-Tone Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold

(Also known as Yellow Rolesor)

Submariner ref. 116613

4

Stainless Steel & White Gold

(Also known as White Rolesor)

Datejust ref. 116264

5

18k Everose Gold

(Rolex’s patented rose gold alloy)

Sky-Dweller ref. 326935

6

950 PlatinumDay-Date ref. 228206

7

14k Yellow GoldDate ref. 15037

8

18k Yellow GoldDaytona ref. 116508

9

18k White GoldGMT-Master II ref. 126719

The second-to-last digit in a five or six-digit Rolex reference number can also indicate the bezel style of the watch. But this is only applicable to Rolex dress watches such as the Datejust, Date, Day-Date, and Oyster Perpetual. This does not apply to Rolex sports watches such as the Rolex Submariner, GMT-Master, Explorer, Daytona, and so on.

Most Common Rolex Bezel Codes

CodeBezel StyleExample

0

Smooth/DomedDatejust II ref. 116300

1

Engine-TurnedDate ref. 15210

3

FlutedDatejust II ref. 126334

6

Turn-O-GraphDatejust “Turn-O-Graph” ref. 116264

Smooth Rolex bezel, fluted Rolex bezel. and Rolex Turn-O-Graph bezel From left to right: domed bezel, engine-turned bezel, fluted bezel, and Turn-O-Graph bezel

Finally, some Rolex reference numbers also include letters at the end. These letters are abbreviations to signify either the color of the bezel or the types of gems used in the bezel. There is one instance where the letters refer to the color of the sapphire crystal. Since most of these abbreviations are in French, we have included the translations and abbreviation meanings below.

Rolex Reference Letters Codes

LettersMeaning & TranslationExample

LN

Lunette Noir 

Black Bezel

Submariner ref. 116613LN

LV

Lunette Verte

Green Bezel

Submariner ref. 116610LV

LB

Lunette Bleu

Blue Bezel

Submariner ref. 116618LB

CHNR

Chocolate-Noir

Brown-Black

GMT Master II ref. 126715CHNR

BLNR

Bleu-Noir

Blue-Black

GMT Master II ref. 126710BLNR

BLRO

Bleu-Rouge

Blue-Red

GMT Master II ref. 126710BLRO

SARU

Saphirs-Rubis

Sapphires-Rubies

GMT-Master II ref. 116758SARU

SANR

Sapphirs Noir

Black Sapphires

GMT-Master II ref. 116759SANR

SABR

Sapphirs-Brilliants

Sapphires-Diamonds

Submariner ref. 116659SABR

RBOW

Rainbow

Multi-colored Sapphires

Daytona ref. 116595RBOW

GV

Glace Verte

Green Crystal

Milgauss ref. 116400GV

Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710BLNR, Submariner Date Ref. 116659SABR, and Milgauss Ref. 116400GV (Left) Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 116710BLNR (Middle) Submariner Date Ref. 116659SABR (Right) Milgauss Ref. 116400

Appreciating The Rolex Reference Number

As you can see, once you understand the Rolex reference number structure, it is easier to recognize the details of a specific watch such as the type of materials Rolex uses to manufacture the watch, type of bezel, dial color, and which model you have.  Rather than a random string of digits and letters, the reference number is a code that once understood, can help to reveal the model, era, material, and bezel style of a Rolex watch and even help one decide on which specific watch they would like to purchase.

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